Monster 6 by Naoki Urasawa: B+

From the back cover:
Tenma’s former fiancĂ©e Eva Heinneman’s life has gone downhill since the death of her father and her breakup with Tenma. Now she’s involved with a menacing man with a shady past and a mysterious connection to Johan. Meanwhile, Johan has worked his way into the graces of a powerful but lonely old financier. Could Johan be targeting this man for more than just his money?

Volume six picks up directly where the previous one left off, with Tenma fleeing the copycat crime scene where he had encountered Inspector Lunge. Lunge, for his part, is delayed in pursuit by the copycat killer, but this results in an AWESOME scene where Tenma is in a car, trying to get it to start, when Lunge suddenly appears and taps on the window. My reaction can only be described as, “Eeeee!” The rest of this first chapter is also great, as Lunge is wounded and Tenma would like to treat him, but Lunge is fixated on getting Tenma to confess.

Unfortunately, the rest of the volume is not as riveting, though it’s at least interesting. The story checks back in with Eva, who has hooked up with an assassin in Johan’s employ. He uses her to try to get into an ultra-secure villa where Tenma is treating a patient, but she betrays him, he shoots her, and, of course, Tenma patches her up. There’s a terrific panel at the end of these chapters where Eva is sharing a meal with the other guy (a criminal) that Tenma had been treating. It’s the perfect place for her to be at the moment, I think.

The last few chapters involve a likable pair of college students who work part-time for a very rich old man. One of them is writing a paper on him while the other is actually his son. Someone else is also claiming to be his son, so they team up to figure out who. Johan is involved for some as yet undisclosed reason, but what’s interesting about this story is that Johan either truly suffers from multiple personality disorder and is seen in his nice persona here, or he’s a manipulative actor extraordinaire. I lean toward the latter interpretation at present.

One thing that frustrates me about the series is it’s hard to tell exactly how much time has passed. As near as I can figure, it’s a little less than a year since Tenma was forced to go on the run, but it would be nice to be thrown an exact date every once in a while. Also, while these side trips are good, they’re not want I want to be reading about. Probably this is on purpose, though, to stoke the anticipation for a Tenma and Lunge reunion so that it’ll be extra exciting when it happens. If that’s the case, it’s certainly working.

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